Williamite War

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What were the main issues at stake for each party during the Williamite/Jacobite conflict in Ireland?

The Williamite-Jacobite conflict in Ireland came to a head during 1689-1691 in which Ireland was ‘engulfed by war on a major scale’.[1] Tensions had been rising after the Glorious Revolution in which William of Orange had successfully accepted the Crown of England and Scotland after James II had fled to France. Louis XIV had persuaded James to go to Ireland, traditionally the back door to England, to try recover his dominating position as Sovereign thus starting a conflict among his supporters in Ireland, the Jacobites, who wish to see him restored as King, and the Williamites who feared a permanent catholic dynasty therefore their support lay with King William as sovereign of England.[2] ‘Two Kings in person [James II and William III] contended for the crowns of three Kingdoms, upon which success the fate of their respective allies and consequently, of all Europe depended’.[3] The outcome of the war was very important for each party as each had a lot to gain from a victory and the main issues at stake for each party will be assessed in detail. Three main issues dominated this conflict; the international threat posed by an aggressively expansionist France, the throne of England and the religious power in Ireland.[4]

The Williamite-Jacobite conflict played a major role amongst the people in Ireland and a lot was at stake in the final outcome of the war, the prize to be won in this conflict was the possession of Dublin. [5] Local issues and old loyalties were predominant for the inhabitants of Ireland during this period.[6] For the Jacobites and Williamites in Ireland the conflict was a climax of a long struggle for supremacy and opposing parties had a lot to gain from a victory. One of the main issues that was at stake was the control of Ireland, who would win the power to rule Ireland and how were they going to rule? Was Ireland going to become independent or remain under English rule? The Jacobites in Ireland had supported James’s succession to the throne of England as he had brought improvements to the position of the Irish catholic majority, however the glorious revolution was a severe blow to catholic hopes of reversing the restoration land settlement. [7] The Jacobites seen their purpose in this conflict as a way to restore their political, economic and religious control to the catholic majority and paved a path way to make Ireland independent from England. [8]

One of the main issues amongst the Catholics in Ireland was land ownership, which seemed to trigger conflict in Ireland. This issue had been a real struggle for Catholics in Ireland, in 1641 before the plantation of Ulster, Catholics had controlled approximately 59 percent of the land which had dramatically decreased to 22 percent at the time of the war of the two kings and so understandably, they seized the opportunity to possibly gain back some power through the restoration of their estates when the situation arose.[9] Simms, explains the importance of what was potentially at stake for the Jacobites in this conflict ‘in the event of a Jacobite victory, the lands of the older established protestant proprietors as well as those who held under the restoration act of settlement would have been available for distribution to Catholics.’

Another aspect that came hand in hand with land ownership was the issue of religion, ‘property and religion lie at the root of the three great upheavals; the Ulster plantation, the Cromwellian confiscation and the Williamite settlement. Therefore a Jacobite victory in this conflict was a chance to solve the ongoing problem of religious freedom in Ireland. Penal laws after the rebellion of 1641 had restricted Catholics throughout Ireland through confiscating their land and restricting their religious freedom, many Catholics gathered together to worship in secret locations as they were not permitted to openly practise...
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